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St Peter and St Thomas of Canterbury, Stambourne, Essex

(52°1′18″N, 0°30′24″E)
TL 721 389
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Essex
now Essex
medieval London
now Chelmsford
  • Ron Baxter
22 April 2015

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Feature Sets

Stambourne is a village in the Braintree district of north Essex, 5 miles SE of Haverhill. The village is dispersed along minor roads around the headwaters of the River Colne, and the church stands on one of these with Stambourne Hall beyond it. The oldest part of the church is the massive 11thc W tower, of flint and pebble rubble with long and short work and reused tiles on the angles, and plain 2-order brick windows, to which tracery was added c.1300. The nave and chancel are mortar rendered and partly of the 11th-12thc. The S nave doorway is of c.1300 and is protected by a later medieval brick porch, and a N aisle was also added in the 16thc. Chancel and chancel arch are 15thc, and the 16thc N chapel now contains the organ. The wooden choirscreen has paintings of saints at the lower level. The tower was restored 1998-99. The only Romanesque feature described here is the W tower arch.


In 1086 Hamo the Steward held I hide in Stambourne and Toppesfield as a manor, land that was held by Goti as two manors in 1066. It was home to 14 villans, 10 bordars, 6 slaves and 15 sokemen, suggesting a total population of around 200 people, involved in pig, cattle and sheep rearing, beekeeping and viticulture. A further holding of half a hide was held by a free man in 1066 and was appropriated by free men of the king in 1086. The two manors were later known as Stambourne Hall and Moone Hall. According to Wright (1836) the former was held by the Honour of Clare, and was granted to Paulinus de Pever by Henry III, and remained in that family throughout Henry’s reign and those of the three Edwards. Both manors of Stambourne were acquired by the Mackwilliam family by 1420, and much of the late-medieval work in the church was funded by them. The rectory is said by Wright to have been given by Richard de Clare, Earl of Hertford, to the Convent of St John the Baptist at Stoke by Clare in 1124, and to have remained with that house until its dissolution in 1534, but this is not confirmed by the VCH.


Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches

The slight decoration on the imposts suggests a date in the late 11thc, but is not distinctive enough for further analysis.


F. Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications or England’s Patron Saints, 3 vols, London 1899, III, 262.

J. Bettley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Essex, New Haven and London 2007, 730-31.

Historic England Listed building 114155

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 1: North West (1916), 271-74.

Victoria County History: Suffolk II (1975), 154-55 (on Stoke by Clare Priory)

T. Wright, The History and Topography of the County of Essex, 2 vols 1836, I, 638-42.